4. MEASURING INSTRUMENTS
Amended Draft Directive on measuring instruments.
|Legal base:||Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||6 February 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||22 February 2002
|Department:||Trade and Industry
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 12 March 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None; but see (21628) 11492/00: HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 4 (15 November 2000)
|To be discussed in Council:||June 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
4.1 Measuring instruments include petrol pumps, beer
glasses, meters for water, gas and electricity and, in the field
of public protection, evidential breath analysers and exhaust
gas analysers. At present, such instruments are regulated on a
national basis. In September 2000, the Commission adopted a proposal
to introduce harmonised regulation of measuring instruments, covering
a huge market which the Commission estimated at about 10% of Community
GDP, with the utilities sector for electricity, gas, water and
heat meters accounting for about half of that.
4.2 The previous Committee left the proposal uncleared
in November 2000 pending further information on the concerns and
uncertainties expressed by the (then) Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs at the Department
of Trade and Industry (Dr Kim Howells). These included the status
of the proposed Measuring Instruments Committee (MIC), the need
to clarify any possible implications for the use of instruments,
such as evidential breath analysers and exhaust gas analysers,
used in law enforcement procedures, and, more generally, the implications
of the proposal for the public procurement directives.
4.3 The previous Committee noted, amongst other things,
that the proposal to harmonise regulation of measuring instruments
should prove beneficial for manufacturers.
4.4 The document is an amended proposal from the Commission
for legislation, to be known as the Measuring Instruments Directive
(MID), which seeks to harmonise the regulation of measuring instruments.
As under the initial proposal, the amended text specifies a list
of measuring instrument categories currently widely regulated
in Member States. The effect of the proposal would be that, if
a Member State wished to continue to regulate any of the instruments
on the list, the instruments would have to comply fully with the
technical provisions of the MID. Member States would have the
option not to regulate categories or types of instruments on the
4.5 The approach should enable Member States to match
current practice within a European framework of legal metrological
control across a wide area, including consumer protection, fair
trading, public health, public safety, or other reasons. The justification
for the proposal is to enable manufacturers to design products
for a European Single Market based on the MID standards or alternatively
to operate in an unrestricted market in those Member States where
the instruments in question remained unregulated.
4.6 Under the MID, the UK will accept instruments approved
in accordance with the requirements of the MID in other Member
States. This has obvious economic advantages to manufacturers.
4.7 The method of regulation proposed would depend upon
the type of instrument, but would generally consist of an approval
stage for the design or type of the instrument, followed by a
verification stage for each instrument which may be either under
self-verification by the manufacturer or by a third party (Notified
Bodies authorised by Member States).
4.8 The proposal would have effect only up to the stage
of placing the product on the market and putting it into use.
It does not include any obligation on Member States to ensure
that regulated instruments continue to remain in compliance with
the MID when in service. Continuing compliance may be a key requirement,
for example, for consumer protection or public safety, but that
would remain a matter for national legislation in each Member
4.9 The proposal includes arrangements for a Standing
Committee, the Measuring Instruments Committee (MIC), to be able,
amongst other things, to modify the specified requirements for
measuring instruments as set out in specific annexes.
4.10 The proposal includes transitional arrangements
for instruments approved under existing national legislation.
The Government's view
4.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 12 March 2002,
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation
(Lord Sainsbury) says that the Government is broadly in favour
of the proposal because of its potential for removing or reducing
barriers to trade in the measuring instruments field without the
need for increased prescription in the UK. He adds:
"Concerns exist in relation to instruments used by public
authorities of the legality of including customer requirements
which are over and above the essential requirements of the Directive.
This is the case for evidential breath and exhaust gas analysers
however, these issues are being addressed ..., and a satisfactory
outcome is expected although nothing can be assured.
"Regulation will be harmonised so that manufacturers will
be able to obtain a single 'European approval' for each type of
measuring instrument. However, manufacturers indicate that they
will need in some cases to design for both the regulated and unregulated
"Effects on UK law will be deregulatory insofar as the Directive
will allow alternative modes of conformity assessment not currently
available to manufacturers and provide a wider choice of Notified
Bodies both in the UK or other member States from which manufacturers
can request Notified Body tasks to be performed.
"Insofar as measuring instruments are regulated, the Measuring
Instruments Committee will be able to modify specified requirements
from the instrument specific annexes etc. The powers of this committee
have now been amended such that for these technical changes a
regulatory procedure is in place with the power vested in the
member States through Qualified Majority Voting and not with the
"As the MID solely covers instruments placed on the market
and put into use and not the control of instruments in service
the use of existing powers will be necessary to effect the additional
ongoing legislative control."
4.12 As the previous Committee noted, this is a potentially
important measure in terms of establishing the basis for a Single
Market in a significant area, where the public is totally reliant
on effective regulation. The previous Committee also noted the
Government's concern about the status of the Measuring Instrument
Committee, the need to clarify any possible implications for evidential
breath analysers and exhaust gas analysers used in law enforcement
procedures, and the implications for the public procurement directives.
4.13 As regards evidential breath analysers, the Government's
view is that preliminary investigations show that other Member
States also generally require high standards of accuracy and reliability
for such instruments, so harmonisation should not cause any reduction
in the standard of results. However, the Minister adds that the
measuring sequence necessary to secure a conviction may differ
from Member State to Member State, not least because the drink
driving limits vary. The problem is that this sequencing appears
to be outside the scope of the Directive. We note that the Minister
is seeking to have this aspect of the proposal made clearer, and
that negotiations are continuing.
4.14 As regards public procurement, the Minister told
us that it has yet to be established what rules or conditions,
if any, might apply in relation to the use of approved measuring
4.15 We leave the document uncleared until the position
on the concerns identified above has been clarified.